I read Mr Ralph Ramkarran’s letter published on December 3rd 2015, in the Stabroek News, in response to mine (‘Was Nandlall “flummoxed” by the Duke Street sale?’). My letter was civil, based upon facts and the law, and was respectful. However, I believe that by my last sentence, in particular, I invoked Mr Ramkarran’s wrath. It reads “How else can one explain his extraordinary remark that the PPP/C is the most corrupt administration of post independent Guyana, and he sat on the Executive Council of that Party for 21 of the 23 years it was in government and served as Speaker of the National Assembly for a decade on behalf of the same PPP/C government, without saying a word.” From that sentence, Mr Ramkarran erroneously extrapolated that I am the PPP/C administration’s mouthpiece on all and sundry. I am not.
Rather than dispassionately address the legal issues raised in my letter, learned Senior Counsel chose to embark upon a tawdry harangue against the PPP and me, personally. I surmise that venom secreted as a result of not being coronated as presidential candidate for the 2011 general and regional elections has its toxic consequences. While it is not my intention to descend to the uncultivated levels of learned Senior Counsel, if I convey such an impression, I am merely traversing seriatim, his allegations.
Mr Ramkarran makes reference to two transactions in his letter and demands explanations from me in relation thereto. Both of these transactions occurred before I entered government and I do not consider it my responsibility to explain anything about them. Significantly, they both occurred while Mr Ramkarran was in the highest echelon of the leadership of the PPP, the Executive Council, and while he was the PPP/C elected Speaker of the National Assembly. Since he was so convinced that these transactions were corrupt, I would like him to kindly furnish us with the details of what he said about them publicly at the time they occurred and not after his departure from the PPP. I know he did not challenge them legally. I also know that he did not resign from the office of Speaker of the National Assembly and from the Executive Council of the PPP as a demonstration of his consternation.
In his tirade, Mr Ramkarran refers to President Bharrat Jagdeo as my president. I recall campaigning alongside Mr Ramkarran for the 2001 and 2006 general and regional elections to elect Mr Bharrat Jagdeo President of the Republic of Guyana. I am flummoxed at how Mr Jagdeo has become my president but not his. Something must be fundamentally wrong when learned and aged men resort to such callow devices in their public advocacy.
Mr Ramkarran also made reference to the fact that I received monies for medical expenses (while I was a Minister). He presumed that I paid it back because I felt I was not entitled to it. No, I was entitled to it, as was every member of cabinet. I repaid it because I could have afforded it and in hindsight, realized that I erred in taking it in the first place.
I find more than passing strange, Mr Ramkarran’s feigned lamentations that he was “hounded out of the PPP for speaking out publicly against corruption after internal objections fell on deaf ears for years.” I cannot recall these public speeches against corruption. I have been on the Central Committee of the PPP for several years. I do not recall hearing them there, either. I recall that Mr Ramkarran informed me that he resigned from the PPP because he was abused by Gail Teixeira. I cannot recall that it had anything to do with corruption.
Learned Senior Counsel expresses deep interest in matters by which I am flummoxed. I will give him two for now.
Firstly, I am flummoxed at how an anti-corruption crusader of Mr Ramkarran’s stature could have campaigned so vigorously and for such a protracted time to be the presidential candidate for the 2011 elections for the PPP, knowing of its most corrupt record in government.
Secondly, I am flummoxed at how a transparency czar with Mr Ramkarran’s credentials could have accepted retainer contracts for legal services valued at millions of dollars for several state-owned companies, agencies of state, departments of government and public corporations, all handed to him by the same “most corrupt government in Guyana’s post-independence history”, during the entirety of its tenure in office, without any form of tendering.
If the occasion arises again, I will address another matter about which I am flummoxed. When I expose those facts and the supporting documentation, he will not blush. He will be embarrassed.